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MEAT INSTITUTE URGES FEDERAL AND STATE AGENCIES TO ADOPT INDUSTRY GUIDELINE PROVEN TO PREVENT E. COLI 0157:H7 IN HAMBURGERS

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Meat Institute (AMI) called on the federal government and all state health departments to adopt uniform safe cooking requirements for hamburger in food service establishments. AMI is offering as a model its own industry guideline which has successfully prevented E. coli 0157:H7 in pre-cooked hamburger patties since 1989. The guideline calls for a 155 degree Fahrenheit cooking temperature.
 AMI President J. Patrick Boyle said the meat industry "is deeply saddened by the recent food-borne illness outbreak associated with undercooked hamburger in the Northwest."
 "The entire food production and handling continuum -- from farm to table -- has an obligation to produce safe foods that do not cause food-borne illness. As meat and poultry packers and processors, we willingly bear part of that responsibility," Boyle said.
 He cited comments by Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, who has repeatedly noted that no inspection system can completely eliminate pathogens from raw meat and poultry. "Thus, food safety is a shared responsibility," Boyle said, "and part of that responsibility rests on food handlers and preparers to cook and serve meat and poultry properly."
 Statistics from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show the source of most food-borne illness outbreaks is clearly not food processing companies; rather, it is improper food handling. CDC reports that 77 percent of all traceable food-borne illness outbreaks result from improper handling or cooking at food service establishments. Twenty percent result from improper cooking and handling in the home.
 "This recent outbreak sheds light on a nationwide problem: inconsistent information about proper cooking temperatures for hamburger," Boyle noted. He also noted that until further research on this emerging pathogen is conducted, proper cooking is the only proven method for preventing food-borne E. coli 0157:H7.
 In letters to Epsy and Donna Shalala, Boyle urged the agencies to "adopt immediately the meat industry's existing guidelines for the microbiological safety of pre-cooked hamburger patties."
 He also urged the two Cabinet secretaries to appoint a joint- agency task force to oversee much-needed research into the origin of and the critical control points for eliminating E. coli 0157:H7. AMI asked the agencies to work with the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods to help identify ways of avoiding future similar outbreaks.
 "We are committed to producing the safest meat and poultry products in the world and pledge our support for the research and education necessary to reduce food-borne pathogens," Boyle told Epsy and Shalala.
 AMI, a national trade association, represents the interests of packers and processors of meat and other animal protein products. Headquartered in Washington, the institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.
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 /NOTE: Copies of AMI's testimony to be delivered tomorrow at a Senate Subcommittee hearing on this subject are available on request. Call the contacts below./
 /CONTACT: Sara Clarke or Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute, 703-841-2400/


CO: American Meat Institute ST: District of Columbia, Washington IN: HEA SU:

DC -- DC043 -- 3226 02/04/93 17:19 EST
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Date:Feb 4, 1993
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